Inspired by the work of Dr. Ian Tattersall and alarmed by lemurs’ spiraling decline, museum educator Penelope Bodry-Sanders incorporated a nonprofit in 1996. Within four years, a nine-acre forested lemur enclosure was opened on land in Myakka City, Florida. An office and research center soon followed.
Bodry-Sanders envisioned a comprehensive conservation initiative where art complements science, research dovetails with education, and a breeding program in the United States provides a safety net for native lemur populations, supporting conservation programs in Madagascar. In 2000, LCF welcomed its first transfers, two critically endangered mongoose lemurs. A year later, the foundation partnered with University of Miami anthropologist Dr. Linda Taylor to host its first field-school program for college students.
The mongoose lemurs produced the first infant at the Myakka City reserve, Alejandro, born in 2002.
On the education front, the foundation saw the publication of Ny Alay Ako (Ako the Aye-Aye), the first in a series of children’s books in Malagasy and English written by the late Dr. Alison Jolly and illustrated by Deborah Ross. The Ako Project became the cornerstone of LCF’s conservation education programs in the United States and Madagascar.
LCF continued acquiring land in Myakka City, adding roads, ponds, lemur shelters, and a second forest habitat. At the same time, LCF funded a new museum and interpretive center for the Tampolo Reserve in Madagascar. Capping its first decade, LCF earned certification from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as a certified related facility.
The Lemur Conservation Foundation is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the primates of Madagascar through managed breeding, scientific research, education, and art.
In 1996, Penelope Bodry-Sanders founded the Lemur Conservation Foundation, originally named the Lower Primate Conservation foundation. The reserve’s initial 40 acres were purchased in 1997 and Bodry-Sanders set up camp. The initial 11 lemurs from the Duke Lemur Center arrived at their new home in 1999.